The High Chaparral

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Charles Aidman as Paddy O'Bannion

Buck entering Blue in the
championship fight.

Victoria in her prized Paris hat.

1.23 The Champion of the Western World    Bunkhouse Boys, Blue, Perlita, Victoria
Billy Blue Cannon plans to earn money for an expensive silver saddle by boxing.

Produced by William F. Claxton
Directed by William F. Claxton      
Written by Michael Fessier
Originally Broadcast:  February 4, 1968

Story Line: Billy Blue learns Killian and his ranch hands have entered every event in the Fourth of July rodeo to win the saddle, so the High Chaparral wranglers compete trying to help Blue, but they fail. Desperate for funds, Blue works out for five dollars with champion Paddy O'Bannion's opponent, but breaks the man's jaw. Buck convinces Blue he must fight the champ if he hopes to buy the saddle. Blue learns O'Bannion needs the fight money to marry and is torn between mixed reactions.

Guest Stars: 

Charles Aidman 
as Paddy O'Bannion

Marie Gomez 
as Perlita Flores

Walter Brooke 
as Carney


Gene Rutherford  
as Bart Kellogg  

Charles H. Gray 
as Killian

George Sims
as The Benecia Kid

Character Highlights: This is a light-hearted episode that focuses pretty evenly on all the characters, though a little more on Blue. While there isn’t much significant dialogue for them, the bunkhouse boys appear in lots of action scenes and are important as a group to the story line. John is doing his best now to please Victoria and even appears a bit jealous of Paddy’s gallant attention to her. Victoria and Blue are still uneasy in their step relationship and Victoria is hurt by Blue’s reluctance to accept the saddle as a gift from her. When he finally accepts it, she is obviously pleased and views it as a sign that she is really a part of the family at last. There are some very good scenes with Mano, who is alternatively in trouble with Victoria and with Perlita. When Perlita inadvertently causes Mano’s horse to lose the race, Mano is so outraged that it is one of the few times we ever see him really lose his temper as he stomps on the hat he stole from Victoria. We also get a brief glimpse of recurring character, Bart Kellogg, in a fight with John. This is the closest we've come so far to seeing Blue without a shirt, when he is dressed for the big prize fight in a rather humorous outfit that includes a skin-tight tank top.

Complete Episode Synopsis
Riding out of Tucson, Billy Blue falls suddenly in love, but not with a girl, with a beautiful silver saddle. Tack shop owner, Mr. Carney, tells him the price is $300, way out of his reach, but Blue is determined to win the money in the upcoming 4th of July rodeo, and leaves his last $18 as deposit on the saddle.

The beautiful silver saddle.

On his way home, however, he's ambushed by a bandit. Unfortunately, Blue recognizes the man, which will cost him his life - except that he is suddenly rescued by a well-aimed rock, and prize fighter Paddy O'Bannion introduces himself, the middleweight champion of the Western world.  Blue is both grateful, and curious, as O'Bannion contrasts Blue's life with his own, and the man invites the boy to sit and he'll tell him all about it.

John assures Victoria that she will not be embarrassed by the behavior of the men.

Back home at the Chaparral's "pre-4th" barbeque, Blue is waxing poetic about the saddle to his family, much to the affectionate amusement of those around him. Buck asks him what he wants it for, though, he can't drive cattle in a silver saddle, and Victoria comes to his defense, telling the others Blue wants it because it is beautiful. Then she offers to buy it for him, as an early birthday present. She is offended when he refuses, not understanding the boy's need to win it for himself.
But when she also intimates that she will not be among the spectators, John protests that he wants her in Tucson with him, and that she's not to worry about the hands making the usual spectacles of themselves because he's going to be riding herd on them all the way - a promise he intends to keep by insisting that they keep their fighting and carousing out of sight of his wife.

Pedro is recruited into the
4th of July band.

Once in town, Pedro gets recruited into the citizen band, and the others get into an immediate brawl over the saddle with a local rancher named Killian, who is also bent on winning it in the rodeo. Joe gets the others to go in with Blue, provided Blue will let them use it, on "special occasions".

The Bunkhouse crew challenges
Killian's men.

The boys don't do so well, though, being roundly beaten at every event by Killian. Only Big John's coming to their rescue and winning the wild horse riding event gets them any prize-money at all.

Perlita shows off her "new" hat.

In the mean time, Manolito has hooked up with sometimes Tucson girlfriend, Perlita, and Perlita has her eye on Victoria's prized Paris hat. Though initially resistant, Manolito manages to steal it for her, just before his big horse race. All of the Chaparral prize winnings are staked on Manolito winning the big race, but Perlita chooses that moment to show off her "new" hat, upsetting first Victoria, and then Manolito's horse, causing him to lose the race, and with it, any chances of winning enough money for Blue's saddle.
Not ready to give up, though, Buck cajoles Blue into sparring with O'Bannion's fight opponent, The Benecia Kid, for $5 to get him into a faro game. When Blue breaks the man's jaw with a lucky punch, Buck decides to make amends, AND still win enough for the saddle, by volunteering Blue to fight O'Bannion, himself. Blue adamantly refuses, until he learns that O'Bannion needs the purse from the fight in order to get married.

Blue goes up against O'Bannion.

 He agrees, out of friendship, and the prize fight is on. At first it seems like Blue might intend to throw the fight to give O'Bannion the prize, until he learns that the whole bunk house gang has bet their whole month's wages in advance on him. The fight continues in earnest, for 29 rounds, until both men finally collapse. The fight is called a draw, and all bets are off.
The bunk house is forgiving, after all Blue managed to keep them from losing a whole month's wages, but now the silver saddle is permanently out of reach. Or so it seems. Beaten and sorry, Blue bids goodbye to O'Bannion, and returns to the livery stable to get his horse. By some magic, the silver saddle is sitting on Soapy - Victoria has gone ahead and purchased it for him, after all.

Blue is pleased with Victoria's gift.

Blue, more secure now in himself, is deeply touched rather than offended by the gesture, and graciously accepts, kissing a delighted Victoria on the cheek in thanks. She rushes into John's arms saying she really feels like one of the family now, as Blue mounts up into his new saddle, and the band marches triumphantly back into town.            

(Synopsis by Sheryl Clay)


Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

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